I visited Macedonia less than a month ago. It was definitely an impromptu trip but it was amazing! As usual , I will be sharing my experiences with you. Expect other interesting posts very soon.
Skopje’s main square is currently undergoing major work. This Macedonian’s capital city project was named ‘Skopje 2014’, as it was meant to be finished last year.
New buildings are being built and for every new building, there are about 6 new statures(OK, maybe I am exaggerating a little).
I have seen rowdy markets in central of Fez, Morocco, blue painted stores in Chefchaouen , street stores in Paris, high rise buildings in New York and Canada, but I had never seen so many statues in one place like in Skopje. It definitely takes the top spot for the most Unorthodox city that I have visited.
Filled with classical buildings with white columns, Foot Bridge, statues etc. Take a look at these;
A gigantic one of Alexander the Great
Take a seat
The Nursing mothers
The Young ladies
The Flag bearers
The Suited Men
The Good guys
Foot bridge over Vardar river is also lined up with statues of heroes, artists and writers.
This project is aimed at bringing in more tourists and with budget airline’ Wizz air now servicing the area, no doubt more tourists will be visiting in the coming years.
Word in the street is that one of the aims of this project is to send a message to neighboring Greece, that they too have culture and to claim some aspects of the country’s history.
Like any government project worldwide, this projects also comes with anger from the locals. Some of the locals that I spoke with believed the money ( which by the way is over 200 million Euros!) should have been spent on more pressing issues; like the high unemployment rate, poverty e.t.c . Majority of young educated Macedonians are struggling to find jobs. Some are seriously thinking about moving abroad but even that is not easy as they are not part of the European Union and Visa issues can be discouraging.
Contrarily, the Old Turkish Bazaar(market) just across the stone bridge is different to the ‘new ‘ main square. Restaurants are cramped together in the stone buildings each with its own character, serving local Turkish/Macedonian. The Turks were said to have arrived in the country over 500 years ago. It is also not uncommon to find Albanians and Bulgarians around, after all Macedonia used to be the former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia ( FYROM), which split up a number of years ago.
All in all, Skopje is definitely going to be one of Europe’s most interesting cities in the coming years. So visit now! Before it gets over crowded with tourists!